Top Model - Design Bureau

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Top Model

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Photos by Brian Gassel

Specializing in model home merchandising, Colorado-based interior designer Lita Dirks knows a thing or two about making a model home look its best—so much so that the builder moved into the penthouse model she designed at the Manhattan Condominiums in Atlanta (pictured). “The experience of viewing a well-merchandised model instills confidence as it shows off the value and appeal of the home, the unique design attributes, and the builder’s attention to detail,” says Dirks. The designer lets us in on her tricks of the trade.

DB: How do you approach designing a model home—something that will be used primarily as a sales tool—differently knowing that no one will ever actually live in it?
Lita Dirks: We first look at each room separately to create ways to highlight the positives and ways to make the negatives into positives while tying all of the spaces together in a tight theme of color, style, and personality. A model home needs to be easily distinguished and remembered from competitive product. Keeping color and furniture style throughout the model consistent rather than diverse helps to make a single model home a single memory. The first impression… the first seven seconds can make or break a sale.

DB: Are you ever tempted to forget about functionality and come up with a really far-out design?
LD: Yes, always. We have to create memory points. Function is important but we need to create the dream. It’s usually a unique detail, color, art piece, or built-in that stays with the person looking at a model home. Thinking out of the box is vital; however, we can never be too trendy or too far-out. People need to find themselves and their lifestyle in a model, not a future too ‘far-out’ to believe.

DB: Was there a theme or a buyer demographic in mind for this model?
LD: The theme and potential buyer were thought to be more modern in style, not fussy or traditional. The idea was to assume a professional athlete might live in the penthouse—simple lines a little more on the masculine side. Our goal was to design a home for someone who enjoyed socializing and sharing their home with friends.


Lita’s tips for furnishing model homes that bring in buyers

* Remember the first seven seconds can make or break a sale

* Create memory points throughout the home to make the model stand out

* Know who your buyer is and design toward their lifestyle and dream

* Show off positive features and make negatives in the home into positives

* Always design with the potential buyer’s budget in mind. If you over-design or under-design you might turn off or scare away your buyer

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